RUMFORD — Carol Gaudin, 54, has been part of the Hope Association since the mid to late 1960s. She remembers being a student at the old Hope School in Mexico and said she enjoyed the teachers and students there.

Gaudin graduated from the Hope School graduated and became a program participant at the old adult activity center. She was always busy and took part in all of the vocational and social activities. Gaudin worked in the wood shop, cutting crafts on the jig saw, sanding the items, painting them and packaging them for sale.

Gaudin also enjoyed the production work of assembling ribbon sticks for a company in West Bethel and assembling rolling pins by the thousands for a company in Locke Mills. She said, “We were a really busy crew back then, and I loved it!” She enjoyed being part of a busy team and enjoyed the skills that she learned.

She remembers when the contracts slowed down and the association opened the first Briar Patch Greenhouse. Gaudin was one of the first workers to learn all of the skills and to see how much the plants would grow in a short time.

Gaudin started out filling pots and flats with potting soil, then transferring plugs and seeds and setting up tables with fresh growth. From there, she helped water and trim the plants for sale. As the Briar Patch opened for the season, Gaudin helped customers select plants, then carry them to the cars. She said she really enjoyed the customer service.

Gaudin said she has learning disabilities and mental health concerns. She noted that she struggles with being bipolar and with mental illness, which means that she sometimes wrestles with depression. She said she is okay with telling people that side of her story because if they have struggles, maybe they’ll want to work to help them overcome their disabilities.

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Asked how the greenhouse position has helped her in other ways, Gaudin said it helped her secure seasonal work at Sunday River Skiway for a couple of years. She worked in a busy kitchen as a dishwasher and really liked it there.

She is now working independently at the Mexico Pizza Hut, where she stays busy keeping the restaurant clean for customers. Gaudin sweeps, mops, helps with dishes and helps with prepackaging chicken wings.

Gaudin finds that her bosses are supportive and encouraging. She feels good because when they get really busy or someone calls out, they’ll call her to help cover the shift. She always enjoys going in because the customers are all polite and encouraging to her.

Gaudin now volunteers about 20 hours of her time helping out at the old Briar Patch and can’t wait to get over into the new Briar Patch and fill it up with new plants.

Gaudin wants the community to know how much their donations were appreciated to make the new greenhouse a possibility and she wants other people with disabilities to know that there are work opportunities in the community.

Carol Gaudin 


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